Top New: Egypt Charges Secularists Alongside Morsi in New Case

Deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was on Sunday ordered to stand trial for insulting the judiciary, legal sources said, alongside twenty-four others including liberal activists who opposed his Islamist rule but have also been critical of the new army-backed order.


Interior minister encourages Egyptians to celebrate January 25, strong security precautions in place
Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim called on Egyptians to congregate in city squares on Saturday to celebrate the “January 25 revolution,” adding that police forces are “fully prepared” to secure such celebrations despite plans by the Muslim Brotherhood to stage protests on the same day. The Brotherhood’s plans to disrupt the January 25 celebrations were being closely monitored and would be aborted, Ibrahim claimed, adding that security forces would take proactive measures to subdue any terrorist elements charged with implementing such plans. Unidentified sources said that the ministry is deploying 260,000 policemen from the Criminal Investigation Department, Rescue and Traffic personnel, Central Security Forces and Special Operations Forces, in addition to 500 combat groups and dozens of armored vehicles. Any attempts by the Muslim Brotherhood to commit acts of violence during the celebrations would be “confronted with the utmost force,” Ibrahim said. According to Egypt Independent, orders have been given to all officers to fire live ammunition in case of any attempts to storm any prison or police station. Meanwhile, the Islamic Jihad movement and its political arm the Islamic Party threatened to advocate ‘revolutionary’ measures leading up to the third anniversary of the January 25 revolution. Egypt’s ultra-conservative Islamist Salafis have said they would not participate in the January 25 commemoration.  [Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 1/21/2014]

Beblawy says cabinet reshuffle is possible, but it is “too soon” to discuss
Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy said the Egyptian cabinet will not submit its resignation after the new constitution has been ratified since there is no legal text requiring it to do so. Beblawy, however, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that a cabinet reshuffle is possible. State media leaked news of anticipated changes in the cabinet, including the replacement of Defense Minister Abdel Fatah al-Sisi should he choose to run for president. After the constitution passed with a staggering 98 percent vote, focus shifted to a cabinet reshuffle, with Al-Ahram quoting “government sources” stating that around seven ministers will be replaced in the near future. Beblawy, however, also said that it was too soon to discuss a reshuffle since the ministers have been assigned with certain tasks that they are currently in the process of fulfilling. [Egypt Independent, Mada Masr, 1/20/2014]

Sabbahy and Sisi emerge as only potential presidential candidates
Presidential advisor for constitutional affairs Ali Saleh said the approval of Egypt’s new constitution means that previous constitutional decrees by interim President Adly Mansour are void. “By the annulling of the 8 July decree and the implementation of a new constitution, there is now no specific road map,” Saleh told Al-Ahram, adding that according to article 230 of the constitution, it is up to Mansour to decide whether parliamentary or presidential elections will be held first. Despite earlier reports pointing to the withdrawal of his candidacy, presidential hopeful Hamdeen Sabbahy announced that he will run in upcoming presidential elections regardless if Egypt’s top military leader General Abdel-Fatah al-Sisi does so as well. In unconfirmed reports, Al-Hayat newspaper said Tuesday that Sisi would resign within days as a prelude for announcing his presidential bid. An informed source said that Sisi made the decision after closely studying foreign reactions, particularly American, to his potential candidacy. Taking the sweeping majority that the constitution received in the recent referendum as a sign of popular support for Sisi, more indications and endorsements for a possible presidential bid seem to be pouring in. Informed sources told Asharq al-Awsat newspaper that they have asked Sisi to announce his candidacy for presidency in the next couple days, rather than wait for the planned announcement date on January 25. [Ahram Online,  Ahram Online, Mada Masr, 1/19/2014]

Also of Interest:
Egyptian Social Democratic Party to form election alliance with Wafd | Ahram Online
Tamarod praises the police | Egypt Independent
Foreign minister chides international media | DNE
Mansour issues prisoner pardons on occasion of January 25 | DNE, Mada Masr
Egypt’s minister of sports slammed with one year in prison, removal from office | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
Egypt’s new constitution to be followed by tackling key political laws | Ahram Online


Egypt charges secularists alongside Morsi in new case, other cases pending
Deposed Egyptian president Mohamed Morsi was on Sunday ordered to stand trial for insulting the judiciary, legal sources said, alongside twenty-four others including liberal activists who opposed his Islamist rule but have also been critical of the new army-backed order. It is the fourth case brought against Morsi since he was ousted by the army last year, after a year in power, following mass protests against his rule. The non-Islamists charged in the case include former members of parliament Amr Hamzawy and Mostafa al-Naggar, as well as Alaa Abdel Fattah, an activist blogger detained since November and already facing trial on charges of protesting without permission. Prominent journalist Abdel Halim Qandil, as well as media personalities Abdel Rahman Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Tawfik Okasha, are also on the list. Meanwhile, a Cairo appeal court ordered on Tuesday Morsi to stand trial on February 16 over allegations he collaborated with Hamas, Hezbollah and other organisations to commit terrorist acts in Egypt. An Egyptian court has also set February 1 for the hearing of the trial of Muslim Brotherhood leaders on charges of inciting violence. Standing trial are the Brotherhood’s supreme guide Mohamed Badie, Mohamed al-Beltagy and others over the violence that took place after Morsi’s ouster in July that resulted in the killing of two people and injury of thirty. [Reuters, Mada Masr, Ahram Online, DNE, AP, Aswat Masriya, 1/21/2014]

Egyptians overwhelmingly back constitution; Democracy International releases preliminary report
More than 98 percent of voters backed a new Egyptian constitution in a referendum this week, authorities said on Saturday, though the turnout was lower than some officials had indicated, with 36.8 percent of the electorate taking part. According to the post-June 30 political roadmap, the referendum will be followed by parliamentary and presidential elections within the next six months. Presidential advisor for constitutional affairs Ali Saleh said, however, the approval of Egypt’s new constitution means that previous constitutional decrees by interim President Adly Mansour are void. On Sunday, Egypt’s interim President Adly Mansour congratulated Egyptians for approving the country’s newly-amended constitution in last week’s referendum, but did not put an end to speculation and rumors concerning Egypt’s next elections cycle. The passing of the constitution evoked a wide range of reactions from a number of political organizations and major figures inside Egypt, with some welcoming the results and others questioning them. Interim Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy congratulated the Egyptian people in a statement from the cabinet, while former presidential candidate and Popular Current leader Hamdeen Sabbahy was cited as saying that the results of the referendum are “legitimate,” adding, however: “We must pay attention to the lack of youth participation.” The Free Egyptians Party was quick to send out congratulations to the Egyptian people on Twitter. The Muslim Brotherhood, and its political arm the Freedom and Justice Party which boycotted the constitutional referendum, alleged the “illegitimate” poll was rigged. In a statement, the group accused authorities of inflating turnout numbers. According to Egypt Independent, the group also issued directives to its legal committee to file a lawsuit challenging the integrity of the referendum, sources close to the internal organization said on Sunday. Speaking on condition of anonymity, the sources added that Ibrahim Mounir, secretary general of the organization, is undertaking this task before international courts. Meanwhile, US-based Democracy International (DI) released its preliminary report on Egypt’s referendum, which criticized both the political climate of the referendum and the actual undertaking of the vote.[Reuters, Ahram Online, Mada Masr, DNE, Egypt Independent, 1/19/2014]

Also of interest:
Appeal of Egyptian activists against jail sentence adjourned to February 10 | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE, Mada Masr
Dozens of Al-Azhar students to stand trial for university violence | Ahram Online, DNE
Cairo court slams defendant six months sentence for insulting flag | Aswat Masriya
Hazem Abu Ismail sentenced to one year for insulting judiciary | Aswat Masriya, Egypt Independent, Mada Masr
Morsi’s nephew among thirteen students referred to criminal court for attempted murder of Zagazig administrator | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Seventy-five Brotherhood suspects remanded into custody for violence in Giza, Cairo University | Egypt Independent


Egypt targets 4-4.5 percent growth next year
Egypt is targeting growth of between 4 and 4.5 percent next fiscal year, Planning Minister Ashraf al-Arabi said on Sunday, as the army-backed government pushes on with plans to stimulate the economy. Arabi said growth projection for the current 2013-14 fiscal year was unchanged at 3 to 3.5 percent. Some government ministers have previously said it was 3.5 percent. Meanwhile, net foreign direct investment in Egypt is expected to rise by a third to about $4 billion this fiscal year, which ends in June, Egyptian Investment Minister Osama Saleh said on Monday. “It is a mix of investments, but a large portion of it is Gulf investments,” Saleh told Reuters in Abu Dhabi, where he is attending an energy summit. [Reuters, 1/21/2014]

Also of interest:
New reform package to promote financial growth | Egypt Independent
Stock market loses EGP 6.4 billion | Egypt Independent
Central Bank says Egypt’s economy ‘sluggish’ amid political unrest  Egypt Independent
Constitution referendum results boost investor confidence in Egypt | DNE, Al Bawaba
Egyptian economists largely bullish on new constitution | DNE
Egypt seen activating bond trading platform in Q2 | Reuters
Egypt finance minister to present country’s economic reforms in Davos | Ahram Online
Egypt tourism revenues down 41 percent in 2013 vs. 2012 | Ahram Online
Egypt’s poor families need permanent aid, subsidy system needs flexibility: Official | Ahram Online


Cairo University increases security prior to Wednesday protests
A Cairo University spokesperson said on Monday that the university’s council had agreed to allow police on the campus, Al-Ahram Arabic reported. There have been ongoing clashes between protesting students and police in recent weeks, with several students killed at the university, including one on Thursday. The Administrative Security Department has developed a plan to secure the university facilities, on Wednesday, prior to the demonstrations planned by pro-Muslim Brotherhood students, including securing entrances and exits and inspecting bags of all students. The police forces stationed on campus will intervene only if the demonstrations become violent or in case students commit acts of sabotage and riots. Members of Cairo University’s faculty urged the university administration on Sunday to “immediately” remove security forces off campus, arguing that the security presence “might lead to harmful confrontations with students.” [Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, 1/21/2014]

Eleven attacks on journalists during referendum coverage says AFTE
At least eleven incidents of attacks on journalists covering the constitutional referendum held last Tuesday and Wednesday were reported, according to the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE). The incidents ranged from detaining journalists, assaulting them, and denying them access to polling stations despite being authorized by the Supreme Electoral Commission to cover the referendum. An al-Jazeera journalist and seven others were ordered to be detained for fifteen days pending investigation by the Minya prosecution, accused of joining protests against the army and the police, inciting violence, and possessing broadcast equipment said Momen Radwan, head of the Minya prosecution office. Meanwhile, a freelance Egyptian TV cameraman who was detained while covering the country’s constitutional referendum for the Associated Press was released on bail Friday, but the case remains open, authorities said. [Mada Masr, DNE, AP, 1/21/2014]

Also of interest:
April 6 vows to escalate protests if activists not freed | Ahram Online
Parents call for Egypt to free Australian reporter | AP
Egypt police disperses Brotherhood demonstration on Saturday | Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online
EIPR criticizes state influence on civil society | DNE
Engineer’s Syndicate board members with ties to Muslim Brotherhood voted out | DNE
Health Ministry: Friday violence leaves 4 killed, 15 injured | Egypt Independent
Another reshuffle at Egypt’s trade union federation | Ahram Online
Demoted Egyptian editor bemoans lack of press freedom | Reuters

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis targets gas pipeline to military factory
Sinai-based militant group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis has claimed responsibility for the gas pipeline blast that took place on January 17, according to a statement released late Sunday from the group. The blast targeted a pipeline that connects gas supplies from Arish to an army cement factory in an industrial zone located in central Sinai, state news agency MENA reported. On Monday, Prime Minister Hazem El-Beblawy condemned the bombing and said that acts of terrorism will not stop Egypt from implementing its roadmap. [Egypt Independent, DNE, Mada Masr, 1/19/2014]

Also of interest:
Egypt’s army arrests nine “terrorists” in Sinai | Aswat Masriya
Extremist leader of al-Tawhid Wal-Jihad killed in Sinai – army | Aswat Masriya, Ahram Online
Three extremists killed in Sinai – security source | Aswat Masriya
Bomb defused in Minya high school | Egypt Independent
Egypt partially reopens Rafah border crossing for three days | Ahram Online
Improvised bomb defused in Cairo’s Zamalek | Ahram Online
Giza Court blast takes on Sunday leaves no casualties | Egypt Independent


UAE convicts thirty Emiratis, Egyptians over Brotherhood ties
The High Court of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has jailed thirty people, including twenty Egyptians, for forming a Muslim Brotherhood cell, a judicial source told AFP. The sentences range from three months to five years. The court found one of the accused not guilty on some charges. The ruling also includes the dissolution of the Muslim Brotherhood, and the deportation of the convicted Egyptians back to Egypt once the sentence lapses. All the defendants have denied the charges and human rights groups, such as Amnesty International, say the trial has been marred by violations, including secret detentions, arrests without warrants, interrogations without a lawyer present and claims that some of the men were tortured. A source close to the UAE government told Reuters: “The trial took place in a transparent manner. The proceedings went according to the legal and juridical laws and regulations in the UAE. The ruling comes right after UAE Army Chief of Staff Hamad al-Rumaithi met Monday with Egyptian Armed Forces Chief of Staff Sedky Sobhy to discuss boosting cooperation and military relations between the nations. [Ahram Online, AP, DNE, 1/21/2014]

US delegation meets Egyptian army chief
Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces General Abdel Fatah al-Sisi met Sunday with a US Congress delegation currently visiting Egypt, state-run newspaper Al-Ahram reported. Military sources said discussions revolved around US-Egypt bilateral relations and the latter’s recent political developments. Sources denied that the visit is connected to the constitutional referendum. Sisi met US Representative Dana Rohrabacher, head of the subcommittee of European and Asian Affairs in the Foreign Affairs Committee. The delegation of five representatives also met with interim President Adly Mansour and other government officials. The delegation congratulated the armed forces and the Egyptian people on the success of the referendum and the founding of a new democratic phase in Egypt, according to a statement by a military spokesman. [DNE, DNE, Mada Masr, 1/18/2014]

US, EU respond to results of referendum vote
United States Secretary of State John Kerry has urged that Egypt’s interim government practice transparency and restraint as its “turbulent experiment in participatory democracy” goes forward. Following Saturday’s official referendum results, Kerry issued an official statement highlighting “serious concern about the limits on freedom of peaceful assembly and expression in Egypt.” In a Sunday statement, Arab League Secretary-General Nabil al-Araby praised Egypt’s referendum as a “fundamental pillar” toward the realization of the roadmap set out after Mohamed Morsi’s ouster. Foreign ministers of the European Union gathered in Brussels on Monday to discuss a variety of issues, among them discussing the situation in Egypt following the constitutional referendum. Prior to the meeting, European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton welcomed Egypt’s constitution referendum, saying she expects the document to set the scene for civilian rule. “I would like to congratulate the Egyptian people and the authorities responsible for organizing the vote in a largely orderly manner,” the EU high representative said in a statement on Sunday.  The United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary William Hague acknowledged that the result of the referendum showed “the [Egyptian] people want a successful democratic transition”. However, he added: “It is important that so many people went out to vote in the referendum but the restriction of political space for opposition is certainly an issue and a problem.” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt said he is “concerned with the situation [in Egypt] as I see it,” pointing to both political and economic issues. He continued: “I fail to see that we have stabilization there. We are concerned with the human rights and political situation.” [DNE, Ahram Online, 1/20/2014]

Also of interest:
Iraqi Prime Minister congratulates Egypt on new charter | Ahram Online
Ship manned by Egyptians seized by Eritrean forces not pirates | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Egypt’s foreign minister urges lifting of African Union’s suspension decision | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent
Tunisia’s Ennahda deny granting Egypt’s Brotherhood political asylum | Ahram Online
Egypt discusses Palestine peace process at UN | DNE
Egyptian president discusses bilateral investment, Syria in Greece visit | Ahram Online, Egypt Independent, DNE
Former Egyptian official, Mostafa Bakry, under fire for US comments | AP

Image: Photo: Egypt Presidency